It may not surprise you to learn that I am not a member of the National Rifle Association. But it would surprise the NRA.
During the fall election campaigns, so mercifully behind us now, I received mailing after mailing from the NRA telling me that my gun rights were being threatened by the likes of Barack Obama and Tammy Baldwin. Apparently, they were lurking just outside my door, waiting to burst in and take away my deer rifle just as soon as they were declared the winners. (Given my recent success at hunting, the Wisconsin deer population would have shrugged -- I represent no threat to them.)
I suppose I got these mailings because I buy hunting licenses or because my guns are registered, and the NRA acquired the lists. In any event, the NRA has nothing to fear from the president, though I have a little more hope for Senator-elect Baldwin. Despite the Gabby Giffords massacre and the sixty (60!) mass shootings since then, Obama has done nothing to stem the needless gun violence in this country.
But here's my point. If the NRA has nothing to fear from Barack Obama, it's also true that the president (and most legislators) have little to fear from the NRA. If you do nothing on gun control and yet the NRA tags you as an enemy of the Second Amendment, than why not really give them something to talk about? It won't make any difference, because they'll come at you just as hard no matter what you do (or don't do) on guns.
Moreover, the NRA lost. Both Obama and Baldwin won in Wisconsin with comfortable margins and Wisconsin is a state rich in hunting tradition.
Then there's the demographics. Most gun owners are middle-aged white guys, like me. Message to my brothers-in-arms: we're the minority and we're getting more minor all the time. The NRA and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Republican Party, have topped out on white guys. They got more votes out of my people then ever before and still lost the election. Increasingly, you win elections by appealing to women, Hispanics, African Americans, gays. All groups that support (PDF) more gun control.
This election demonstrated that the NRA is a paper tiger. Let's brush them aside and start work on the gun control laws that will save lives.